-by Genna Brusie and Julia Mastandrea- The nominations are in! This year’s Academy Awards, hosted for the second year in a row by Ellen DeGeneres, will be broadcasted in late February. Make sure to see these Best Picture Nominees before they compete for the big win!
Birdman: Michael Keaton delivers a unique and riveting performance as Riggan Thomson, a former cinema superhero attempting to write, direct, and star in a Broadway play, which he hopes will prove that he is a real artist and not just another washed-up movie star. Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, the cast of the film scored nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress (Emma Stone).
Selma: This stunning historical drama focuses on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyelowo). It is a remarkably real and dishearteningly relevant story of human equality and triumph. It was nominated for four Golden Globe awards, but was only nominated for two Academy Awards (Best Picture and Best Original Song), making the list of Best Actor nominees the least diverse it has been in years.
Boyhood: This coming-of-age film has garnered critical acclaim and public attention due to its unusual production: it was filmed over the course of twelve years and followed the aging of the actors in real time. It was a critical success and scored three Golden Globe awards, including Best Motion Picture – Drama. At this year’s Oscars, it is up for six awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Lead Actor and Lead Actress nominations for Patricia Arquette (who won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress) and Ethan Hawke.
American Sniper: This biographical war drama directed by Clint Eastwood stars a riveting Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, the man considered to be the deadliest marksman in US history. The film has actually been drawing significant controversy for its glorification of Kyle, because his autobiography (which the film is based on) portrays him as more violent and racist than the movie does. American Sniper is also drawing controversy for alleged racist portrayals of Iraqis, and for ignoring many negative American actions during the war in Iraq. The film did not win any awards at the Golden Globes, but scored six nominations at this year’s Academy Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor for Cooper.
The Imitation Game: British actor Benedict Cumberbatch stars in this historical drama as Alan Turing, a World War II-era mathematician responsible for creating the first computer, a code-breaking machine that cracked the German machine Enigma. Despite being an integral part of winning World War II, Turing was later prosecuted for his homosexuality, which was illegal at the time. The film was both a critical and commercial success and was the top-grossing independent film release of 2014. Cumberbatch’s harrowing performance earned him a Best Actor nomination at both the Golden Globes and this year’s Academy Awards, and the film itself is also up for seven other awards, including Best Director for Morten Tyldum and Best Supporting Actress for Keira Knightley.
The Grand Budapest Hotel: The Grand Budapest hotel is a comedy-drama starring Ralph Fiennes as a hotel concierge who forms an alliance with another employee at the hotel (Tony Revolori) to help the concierge prove his innocence when he is framed for a murder he didn’t commit. The film’s unique and whimsical style is striking, and as a result it has been nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Original Score.
Whiplash: Whiplash is the story of a drum prodigy, Andrew Neimann (Miles Teller), who is a student at the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory. Andrew’s band conductor, Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), abuses his students by pushing them too hard and by being extremely critical, but this treatment only leads him to practice more, determined to impress Fletcher. The film was a critical success, leading to a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor for Simmons and five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Simmons.
The Theory of Everything: Eddie Redmayne stars as the brilliant physicist Stephen Hawking in a film that tells the story of Hawking’s revolutionary theory about black holes and his relationship with his wife Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones) as he deals with the heartbreaking diagnosis of motor neuron disease. In addition to its Golden Globe win for Best Original Score, the film garnered five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Original Score, and Best Actor and Actress for Redmayne and Jones.